Cantonese in ~300 words

Based off of funwithlanguages‘ post about learning the basics of a language in 300 words, I’ve written up a Cantonese version (with standard Jyutping pronunciation). If you want the audio pronunciation of any of the words below, visit this Cantonese audio dictionary. 

Notes on Jyutping

  • j =  /j/
  • c = /tsʰ/
  • z = /ts/
  • eoi = /ɵy/
  • eo = /ɵ/
  • ou = /ou/
  • o = /ɔː/
  • ui = /uːi/
  • a = /ɐ/
  • au = /ɐu/
  • aa = /aː/
  • u = /ʊ/
  • iu = /iːu/
  • i = /iː/

Refer to this article for more help with Jyutping pronunciation.

First Verbs

  1. be - 係 [hai6] (喺 [hai2] for locations)
  2. there is - 有 [jau5], there isn’t - 冇 [mou5]
  3. have - 有 [jau5], to not have - 冇 [mou5]
  4. do - 做 [zou6]
  5. go - 去 [heoi3]
  6. want - 想 [seong2] + V, 要 [jiu3] + noun 
  7. can - V + 得 [dak1]; (ie: to know how to do sth) - 識 [sik1] + V
  8. need - (需)要 [seoi1 jiu3] (to need a noun); 要 [jiu3] + V (to need V)
  9. think - 諗 [nam2]
  10. know - 知 [zi1] (to know a fact); 識 [sik1] (to know a person, thing)
  11. say - 話 [waa6], 講 [gong2]
  12. like - 鍾意 [zung1 ji3]
  13. speak - 講 [gong2]
  14. learn - 學 [hok6]
  15. understand - 明 [ming4] or 明白 [ming4 baak6]

Conjunctions

  1. that (as in “I think that…” or “the woman that…”) - No exact translation, although the word 嘅 [ge3] is used in relative clauses, which somewhat reflects the usage of “that”. 嘅 is equivalent to 的 in Mandarin, if that makes it easier to see.                                                                               “飲緊咖啡男人同我朋友傾緊偈 - The man that is drinking coffee is chatting with my friend
  2. but - 不過 [bat1 gwo3], 但係 [daan6 hai6]
  3. and - 同埋 [tung4 maai4] or 同 [tung4]
  4. or - 定係 [ding6 hai6], 或者 [waak6 ze2]
  5. because - 因為 [jan1 wai6]
  6. though - 雖則 [seoi1 zak1]
  7. so (meaning “therefore”; e.g. “I wanted it, so I bought it”) - 所以 [so2 ji5], 於是乎 [jyu1 si6 fu4]
  8. if - 如果 [jyu4 gwo2]

Prepositions

  1. of - 嘅 [ge3]
  2. to - 到 [dou3], “to” isn’t exactly used like it is in English
  3. from - 由 [jau4]
  4. in - 喺 [hai2]
  5. at (a place) - 喺 [hai2]
  6. at (a time) - 喺 [hai2], 嗰陣時 [go2 zan6 si4], 嗰陣 [go2 zan6]
  7. with - 同 [tung4]
  8. about - 關於 [gwaan1 jyu]; (approximately) - 大概 [daai6 koi3], 大約 [daai6 joek3]
  9. like (meaning “similar to”) - 好似 [hou2 ci5], 噉 [gam2]
  10. for - 為 [wai6]
  11. before (also as a conjunction) - 之前 [zi1 cin4]
  12. after (also as a conjunction) - 之後 [zi hau6]
  13. during - 喺…嘅期間 [hai2 … ge3 kei4 gaan1], …嘅時候 [ge3 si4 hau6]

Question Words

  1. who - 邊個 [bin1 go3]
  2. what - 乜嘢 [mat1 je5]
  3. where - 邊度 [bin1 dou6]
  4. when - 幾時 [gei2 si4]
  5. why - 點解 [dim2 gaai2]
  6. how - 點 [dim2], 點樣 [dim2 joeng2]
  7. how much - 幾多 [gei2 do1]
  8. which - 邊 [bin1] + classifier

Adverbs

  1. a lot - 好多 [hou2 do1]
  2. a little - 少少 [siu2 siu2],  一啲 [jat1 di1]
  3. well - 好 [hou2]
  4. badly - 差 [caa1], 唔好 [m4 hou2]
  5. only - 淨係 [zing6 hai6], 只係 [zi2 hai6]
  6. also - 都 [dou1], 亦都 [jik6 dou1]
  7. very - 好 [hou2]
  8. too (as in “too tall”) - 太 [taai3]
  9. too much - 太多 [taai3 do1]
  10. so (as in “so tall”) - 好 [hou2], 咁 [gam3]
  11. so much - 好多 [hou2 do1], 咁多 [gam3 do1]
  12. more (than) - 多 (過) [do1 gwo3]
  13. less (than) - 少 (過) [siu2 gwo3]
  14. as … as … (e.g. “as tall as”) - … (一樣)咁 [jat1 joeng6 gam3] (e.g. as tall as me - 我(一樣)咁高) 
  15. most - 最多 [zeoi3 do1], 大部份 [daai6 bou6 fan6]
  16. least - 最少 [zeoi3 siu2]
  17. better - 好啲 [hou2 di1]
  18. best - 最好 [zeoi3 hou2]
  19. worse - 差過 [caa1 gwo3]
  20. worst - 最差 [zeoi3 caa1]
  21. now - 而家 [ji4 gaa1]
  22. then - (and then) 跟住 [gan1 zyu6]; (at that time) 嗰陣時 [go2 zan6 si4], 當時 [dong1 si4]
  23. here - 呢度 [ni1 dou6]
  24. there - 嗰度 - [go2 dou6]
  25. maybe - 可能 [ho2 nang4], 話唔定 [waa6 m4 ding6]
  26. always - 成日 [seng4 jat6], 吓吓 [haa5 haa5]
  27. usually - 通常 [tung1 soeng4]
  28. often - 好多時 [hou2 do1 si4]
  29. sometimes - 有時 [jau5 si4], 間唔中 [gaan3 m4 jung1]
  30. never - 從來 [cung4 loi4] + negative verb; 成日都 [seng4 jat6 dou1] + negative verb
  31. today - 今日 [gam1 jat6]
  32. yesterday - 尋日 [cam4 jat6]
  33. tomorrow - 聽日 [ting1 jat6]
  34. soon - 就快 [zau6 faai3], 冇幾耐 [mou5 gei2 noi6], 一陣間 [jat1 zan6 gaan1]
  35. almost - 就快 [zau6 faai3], 就嚟 [zau6 lei4]
  36. already - 已經 [ji5 ging1]
  37. still - 重係 [zung6 hai6], 仍然 [jing4 jin1]
  38. even - 連 [lin4] (ie: “even I knew that”)
  39. enough - 夠 [gau3]

Adjectives

  1. the, a - n/a
  2. this - 呢個 [ni1 go3]
  3. that - 嗰個 [go2 go3]
  4. good - 好 [hou2]
  5. bad - 唔好 [m4 hou2], 壞 [waai6]
  6. all - 全部 [cyun4 bou6], 所有 [so2 jau5]
  7. some - 有啲 [jau5 di1], 一啲 [jat1 di1]
  8. no - 唔係 [m4 hai6], 冇 [mou5]
  9. any - 任何 [jam6 ho4]
  10. many - 好多 [hou2 do1]
  11. few - 好少 [hou2 siu2]
  12. most - 最多 [zeoi3 do1]
  13. other - 其他 [kei4 taa1]
  14. same - 一樣 [jat1 jeong6], 相同 [seong1 tung4]
  15. different - 唔同 [m4 tung4]
  16. enough - 夠 [gau3]
  17. one - 一 [jat1]
  18. two - 二 [ji6]
  19. a few - 幾 + classifier [gei2], 一啲 [jat1 di1]
  20. first - 第一 [dai6 jat1], (first of all) 首先 [sau2 sin1]
  21. next - 下 [haa6]
  22. last (meaning “past”, e.g. “last Friday”) - 上 [seong6]
  23. last (meaning “final”) - 最後 [zeoi3 hau6]
  24. easy - 容易 [jung4 ji6]
  25. hard - 難 [naan4] 
  26. early - 早 [zou2]
  27. late - 遲 [ci4]
  28. important - 重要 [zung6 jiu3]
  29. interesting - 有趣 [jau5 ceoi3]
  30. fun - 好玩 [hou2 waan2]
  31. boring - 悶 [mun6]
  32. beautiful - 靚 [leng3]
  33. big - 大 [daai6]
  34. small - 細 [sai3]
  35. happy - 開心 [hoi1 sam1]
  36. sad - 唔開心 [m4 hoi1 sam1], 傷心 [soeng1 sam1], 難過 [naan4 gwo3]
  37. busy - 忙 [mong4], 唔得閒 [m4 dak1 haan4]
  38. excited - 興奮 [hing1 fan5]
  39. tired - 攰 [gui6]
  40. ready - 準備好 [zeon2 bei6 hou2]
  41. favourite - 最鍾意 [zeoi3 zung1 ji3]
  42. new - 新 [san1]
  43. right (meaning “correct”) - 啱 [ngaam1/aam1]
  44. wrong - 錯 [co3]
  45. true - 真 [zan1]

Pronouns

  1. I - 我 [ngo5]
  2. you - 你 [nei5]
  3. she - 佢 [keoi5]
  4. he - 佢 [keoi5]
  5. it - 佢 [keoi5]
  6. we - 我地 [ngo5 dei6]
  7. you (plural) - 你地 [nei5 dei6]
  8. they - 佢地 [keoi5 dei6]

Nouns

  1. everything - 乜嘢都 [mat1 je5 dou1], 所有嘢都 [so2 jau5 je5 dou1]
  2. something - 啲嘢 [di1 je5]
  3. nothing - 冇嘢 [mou5 je5]
  4. everyone - 大家 [daai6 gaa1]
  5. someone - 有人 [jau5 jan4]
  6. no one - 冇人 [mou5 jan4]
  7. Cantonese - 廣東話 [gwong2 dung1 waa2], 粵語 [jyut6 jyu5]
  8. English - 英文 [jing1 man2]
  9. thing - 嘢 [je5]
  10. person - 人 [jan4]
  11. place - 地方 [dei6 fong1]
  12. time (as in “a long time”) - 時間 [si4 gaan3]
  13. time (as in “I did it 3 times”) - 次 [ci3]
  14. friend - 朋友 [pang4 jau5]
  15. woman - 女人 [neoi5 jan2]
  16. man - 男人 [naam4 jan2]
  17. money - 錢 [cin2]
  18. country - 國家 [gwok3 gaa1]
  19. Hong Kong - 香港 [hoeng1 gong2]
  20. China - 中國 [zung1 gwok3]
  21. city - 城市 [sing4 si5]
  22. language - 語言 [jyu5 jin4]
  23. word - 字 [zi6]
  24. food - 食物 [sik6 mat6]
  25. house - 屋 [uk1], 屋企 [uk1 kei2]
  26. store - 舖頭 [pou3 tau2]
  27. office - 辦公室 [baan6 gung1 sat1], 寫字樓 [se2 zi6 lau4]
  28. company - 公司 [gung1 si1]
  29. manager - 老闆 [lou5 baan2], 老細 [lou5 sai3]
  30. coworker - 同事 [tung4 si6]
  31. job - 工作 [gung1 zok3]
  32. work (as in “I have a lot of work to do”) - 事 [si6], 嘢 [je5] (lit. things, stuff)
  33. problem - 問題 [man6 tai4]
  34. question - 問題 [man6 tai4]
  35. idea - 橋 [kiu2], 諗法 [nam2 faat3]
  36. life - 人生 [jan4 sang1], 生命 [sang1 ming6]
  37. world - 世界 [sai3 gaai3]
  38. day - 日 [jat6]
  39. year - 年 [nin4]
  40. week - 星期 [sing1 kei4], 禮拜 [lai5 baai3]
  41. month - 月 [jyut6]
  42. hour - 鐘頭 [zung1 tau4]
  43. mother - 媽咪 [maa1 mi4], 阿媽, 媽媽
  44. father - 爹哋 [de1 di6], 老豆 [lou5 dau6], 阿爸 [aa3 baa4], 爸爸 [baa4 baa1] 
  45. parent - 家長 [gaa1 zoeng2], 父母 [fu6 mou5]
  46. daughter - 女 [neoi2] (note the change in tone)
  47. son - 仔 [zai2]
  48. child - 細佬仔 [sai3 lou2 zai2] 
  49. wife, husband - 老婆 [lou5 po4], 太太 [taai3 taai2]; 老公 [lou5 gung1], 先生 [sin1 saang1]
  50. girlfriend, boyfriend - 女朋友 [neoi5 pang4 jau5]; 男朋友 [naam4 pang4 jau5]

Keep reading

2

Farewell Mr Yu.

He passed away age 76 and has apparently been sick for quite some time. He was known for his roles in many martial arts related films and dramas, including Xiao Ao Jiang Hu, Return of the Condor Heroes, and Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre.

I grew up watching him in Zhang Ji Zhong’s adaptations of Jin Yong’s wuxia novels.

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